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October 2015

September 2015

Liveblogging the Conquest of England: September 25, 1066 The Battle of Stamford Bridge

A Clerk of Oxford: The Battle of Stamford Bridge:

On 25 September 1066 a battle was fought which is sometimes said to mark the end of the Viking Age. I generally prefer not to fix firm end dates on historical periods, but the death of Harald Hardrada, king of Norway, on a Yorkshire battlefield in 1066 did mark the end of one phase in England's relationship with the Scandinavian world, and set the stage for Harold Godwineson's defeat at Hastings three weeks later.

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Liveblogging World War II: September 24, 1945: Eleanor Roosevelt,

Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day:

HYDE PARK, Sunday—The news of Judge Irving Lehman's death is in the papers this morning, and the State of New York has sustained a loss which its citizens will recognize with deep sorrow. For many years, the Chief Justice of the highest court in New York State held a unique position, and he was respected and regarded with great affection by all those who knew him. To his family, this loss is a heartbreaking one. I can hardly imagine how Mrs. Lehman will face life without the deep concern and solicitude for her husband which has always been present in her mind and heart. Deeper than that, however, will be the loss of someone who has always stood for her, as well as for the rest of us, as a tower of strength and integrity.

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Must-Read: The very sharp Steve Teles's implicit claim that the rise of the financial plutocracy shows that we need less financial regulation seems to me to be completely wrong. There are a huge number of important economic areas--health insurance, health care, education, pensions, defense, infrastructure, land use, social insurance--in which market failures are so pervasive and powerful that we have no choice but to regulate. The hope is that we can curb rent-seeking when we do. But saying that we reduce the problem of rent-seeking by reducing regulation misses the most important aspect of the problem: in those key areas we find that we are often creating other problems as well. If he were focused on reducing the "regulations" that are original appropriation and inheritance I might say he has a strong case. But there seems to me to be a little too much seeking of common ground that isn't there with libertarians here...

Steve Teles: The Scourge of Upward Redistribution: "Start for simplicity's sake with... the occupations of the top percentile...

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Must-Read: I must say, I think the sharp Tim Kane is indulging in a great deal of wishful thinking here. My reading was that the word "deport" was not mentioned because Trump did not think he needed to, and because others did not wish to give Trump an opportunity to remind the base how much they like him. The chances for sane, incremental, technocratic immigration policies thus look much less promising to me than they do to Tim:

Tim Kane: Immigration and The GOP: "At the first GOP presidential debate... moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News focused the night’s first question on...

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Partly Hoisted from Jennifer Rubin's Archives: I Should Have Listened to Norm Ornstein!

Norm Ornstein observes Jennifer Rubin (2015) saying "I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO NORM ORNSTEIN THREE YEARS AGO!!" to Jennifer Rubin (2012):

Jennifer Rubin (September 15, 2015): Perry exits: A sad sign of our politics: "The MSM obsesses on trivial matters...

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Over at Unfogged: Heebie-Geebie: Attitude. Or Maybe Leadership: "One of the xfit kids was wearing a shirt today that says...

...'Leadership is Attitude' or some nonsense. We currently have a highly competent provost at Heebie U and it has really driven home for me what competent leadership actually means, and that leadership is actually a thing. If I had to work it out, it seems to be: she researches the hell out of all possibilities, summarizes her findings in a clear, concise way, listens to all parties involved, makes a decision in a timely manner with reasonable justification, implements her decisions thoroughly--forming committees, having people develop timelines and following through on them, lets us know what her goals on the horizon are and how each new thing supports her larger goals, and her priorities seem wise to me. It's actually a lot of work and a ton of organization, and not a lot of attitude.


Today's Economic History: The Mesad Hashavyahu Ostrakon

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Wikipedia: Mesad Hashavyahu: "Meṣad Hashavyahu is an ancient fortress on the border of ancient Judea...

...facing the Philistine city of Ashdod near the Mediterranean Sea.... It dates from approximately 630 BCE to 609 BCE, within the reigning years of Josiah, king of Judah... just after the death of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal and before the occupation of the Philistine Plain by Psammetichus of Egypt.... The fact that the fort was south-facing may imply that it was built for the protection of Yavne and the surrounding agricultural lands including the seaport area of Yavne-Yam, against aggressors from the south, either Philistine or Egyptian. The fortress was abandoned in 609 BCE or shortly thereafter, likely associated with the loss of territory due to occupation by the Egyptian army following Josiah's death....

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Things to Read for Your Nighttime Procrastination on September 23, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

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Liveblogging the Cold War: September 23, 1945: Vietnam

Wikipedia: War in Vietnam:

In July 1945 at Potsdam, Germany, the Allied leaders made the decision to divide Indochina in half at the 16th parallel to allow Chiang Kai-shek to receive the Japanese surrender in the North, while Lord Louis Mountbatten to receive the surrender in the South. The Allies agreed that France was the rightful owner of French Indochina, but... a British-Indian force was installed in order to help the French in re-establishing control....

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Must-Read: I confess I have sometimes thought that new classical macro is nothing but a circuitous way of pretending that the Sonnenschein-Mantel-Debreu-theorem does not exist via the following road:

  • We can only study models we can solve.
  • Macro models are complex to solve.
  • If we can restrict our study only to models we can transform into a planner's problem, we can simplify our models.
  • Therefore we study only models which have one optimal equilibrium.

Robert Solow Lars Syll: "The purported strength of New Classical macroeconomics is that it has firm anchorage in preference-based microeconomics...

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Live from La Farine: I really do not understand this claim by the usually-sharp Nick Confessore that Scott Walker was driven out of the Republican presidential nominee race by lack of the right kind of money. If you think that you should be president or even that the advertising spending of your SuperPAC makes a positive contribution to the process, you get in your SUV and you drive about Iowa and New Hampshire from town hall meeting to town hall meeting accompanied by an aide with a smartphone to record and post YouTube video, eating in diners and sleeping in Motel 6.

That your campaign kitty is broke is simply not a problem:

Nick Confessore: Demise of Scott Walker’s 2016 Bid Shows Limits of ‘Super PACs’: "In the age of ‘super PACs,’ a presidential campaign can die of thirst on the shores of the Great Lakes...

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Must-Read: Charlie Stross guessed that it requires a population of at least 100 million to operate our current division of labor at our current level of productivity. Here Andy George goes about the division of labor from the other end--and he cheats: he doesn't domesticate and evolve his wheat, for example...

Andy George: How to Make Everything:

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Must-Read: The fact that the sources of win-win value in finance are subtle and second-order--having to do with liquidity, patience, diversification, and incentive alignment--makes phishing for phools much more profitable relative to building relationships with customers and suppliers than in "normal" industries. I am pleased that the... I was going to say Nobel Prize-caliber minds, but looking again at the Economics prize recipients I realize that is not a compliment... extremely-sharp minds of Shiller and Akerlof are thinking of this:

Robert J. Shiller: Fraud, Fools, and Financial Markets: "Because we can be manipulated or deceived or even just passively tempted...

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Liveblogging the Cold War: September 22, 1945: Harry S. Truman to Bess W. Truman

Letter from Harry S. Truman to Bess W. Truman, September 22, 1945:

The White House September 22, 1945

Dear Bess:

I guess Margie has writers cramp all right. But yesterday was a good day because I had a letter from you and a conversation in the evening. You sounded good and I'm glad you are enjoying yourselves. Wish I could be there too.

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Must-Read: I know that Ben Bernanke is depressed and unhappy at his consistent overoptimism while Fed Chair about the likely pace of recovery. But what I do not know is what steps the Federal Reserve has taken to rejigger its model to cure it of what is by now nearly a decade of overoptimism. I hope there has been a deep rethink, rather than just the ascription of bad performance to a whole bunch of negative residuals in sequence:

Dan McCrum: A dirty dozen decisions deferred: "Forward guidance under Ben Bernanke and then Janet Yellen has been...

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Must-Read: In my view, the fact that the poor in America today are in many dimensions better off then the very rich of previous centuries is part of a complex of facts that does not militate against worrying a great deal about inequality. Aristoteles of Stagira could make the case that his society was so poor that massive inequality was necessary to give some the leisure to think and guide humanity--that, until and unless we somehow acquired the stone servitors of Daedalos or the self-guiding catering carts of Hephaestos, large-scale slavery was not only a good thing but necessary and essential for civilization.

We cannot:

Barry Ritholtz: Are the Poor [Today] Better Off than King Louis XIV?: "On Fridays... I like to highlight misguided, faulty or just plain dumb analysis...

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(Late) Monday Smackdown: Why Isn't Michael Kinsley Defending Ben Carson Anymore?

Scott Lemieux: Saying the Quiet Parts Loud: "I can’t wait for Michael Kinsley’s column about how we shouldn’t criticize poor Dr. Carson...

...for his comments about how some classes of people should be ineligible for the presidency because he hasn’t actually called for Ahmed Mohamed to summarily executed.

And:

Scott Lemieux (2013): Did Michael Kinsley Invent the Concept of Same-Sex Marriage?: "You would think that Michael Kinsley’s defense of austerity would be the most glibly know-nothing thing you’d read all week...

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Live from Starbucks at Country Club Plaza: I understand by the Rupert Murdochs of the world do not like Hillary Rodham Clinton. But why are the MSM apparatchiks willing to go the extra ten miles? It remains a mystery to me...

Karoli: CNN's Clinton Derangement Syndrome Has Now Reached Peak Insanity: "Watch CNN get completely desperate to concoct some kind of terrible story...

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Live from La Strada:

As I have said before, if you vote for today's Republicans, there is something very wrong with you. If you work for or publicly support today's Republicans as anything other than a double agent hoping to demolish today's Republican Party, sow the ground with salt, and rebuild something else somewhere else, there is something very wrong with you.


UC Berkeley Events Calendar: Seminar 211, Economic History: The Trilemma in a Currency Union: Evidence from the U.S. Experience with Non-Uniform Rates

Live from Evans Hall: Jeremie Cohen-Setton: The Trilemma in a Currency Union: Evidence from the U.S. Experience with Non-Uniform Rates: "Seminar 211, Economic History | September 21 | 2-4 p.m. | 597 Evans Hall..."


Things to Read for Your Afternoon Procrastination on September 21, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

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Must-Read: There is an argument that inequality does not matter much anymore. The argument goes like this: Income and wealth inequality used to matter a lot because the poor (and even the middle class) were always hungry and sometimes starved. But with the coming of modern nutrition, public health, and literacy standards, inequality no longer matters much--it becomes a set of social status games, rather than something that brutally affects your life-chances and your life.

But now we have the extraordinary rise in this Second Gilded Age of ours in diverging life expectancy by income class. We badly, desperately need to get a handle on where this is coming from and what this means. I do not think that we have a proper handle on it yet:

Louise Sheiner: Implications of the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: "The numbers... are alarming:

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Comment of the Day: Maynard Handley: Musings on... the Loyal-Spirit Great Kings of Iran 550-330 BCE...: "'I do not think we understand very well why...

...a Kurush could do what a Ramses, an Ashurbanipal, a Sargon, or even a Nebuchadnezzar could not.' Is there SUCH a mystery here? My take on this (and similar phenomena like Alexander, the Islamic expansion, and the Mongols) is that they can occur at a certain point in history when semi-states have been created, but not yet nations with all the 'patriotism' and mythology that implies.

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Live from the Republican Dystopia: Post-WWII Republican ideology has always walked a fine line--that America was under grave threat, but that everything was or would be sunny if only people would elect Republicans. Goldwater sought to undo Roosevelt's New Deal as a historic mistake--but all would then be well. Nixon sought to divide the country in two, with the bigger half on his side and the liberal communist Black hippie professors on the other side--but all would be well if they just stayed in their place. Reagan made it the country vs. the bureaucrats: his part of the government would help you by keeping the rest of the government from trying to help you--and was, of course, much sunnier.

Now, however, we have what seem to be Fox News Republicans: Fox News's business model is to terrify its watchers so that they keep their eyes glued to the screen and so their eyeballs can be sold to advertisers. Good business model from a money making perspective. Really lousy public service. And it is not at all clear for any candidate it's scaring your people will keep them watching you, let alone pull voting-booth levers for you:

Francis Wilkinson: In Republican Civil War, Dark Forces Reign: "The Republican presidential debate last night revealed a party markedly different...

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Must-Read: It was Milton Friedman who insisted, over and over again, that in any but the shortest of runs high nominal interest rates were not a sign that money was tight--that the central bank had pushed the market interest rate above the Wicksellian natural rate--but rather that money had been and probably was still loose, and that market expectations had adjusted to that.

There are thus two puzzles in trying to understand the internal deviation of the Federal Reserve from Wicksellian orthodoxy today: Why have commercial bankers been able to maintain what looks like outsized influence? Why did the lessons Milton Friedman taught the establishment right now stick?

Paul Krugman: Rate Rage: "You can argue, as Brad DeLong does, that...

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Must-Read: I do wonder, in what sense can Prescottism--which in essence is putting the residual on the right-hand side as an explanatory variable plus throwing away all statistical evidence that, even so, your model does not fit--be thought to be a "relative success in accounting for [a] postwar experience" that includes 1979-1984? Noah Smith calls this: "gaslighting". I concur

David Glasner: Romer v. Lucas: "[Robert] Lucas did not adopt and internalize Friedman’s approach to economic problem solving...

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Links for the Week of September 14, 2015

Sanzio 01 The School of Athens Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Links:

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Things to Read for Your Morning Procrastination on September 20, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

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Liveblogging 1066: September 20, 1066: Battle of Fulford

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Wikipedia: Battle of Fulford:

Tostig... Harold Godwinson's banished brother... had allied with King Harald of Norway... but history has left us no record of what role Tostig saw for himself if the invasions were successful.... The earls of York could have hidden behind the walls of their city but instead they met the Viking army across a river. All day the English desperately tried to break the Viking shield wall but to no avail....

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Weekend Reading: Ben Thompson: Popping the Publishing Bubble

You really need to pay for one technology newsletter: and Ben Thompson's Stratechery is the one that you really need to pay for:

Ben Thompson: Popping the Publishing Bubble: "Today Apple releases iOS 9 with support for...

...“content blocking extensions”... enabl[ing] ad blockers for Safari, iOS’s default web browser.... Facebook... Twitter and most other social networks... [are] not affected.... [But] while the concern over ad-blockers may be too early, publisher angst is arguably too late: if iOS 9 ad blockers do end up causing serious harm it is only because the publishers have been living in an unsustainable bubble....

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What Do You Think the Chances Are that Jeffrey M. Lacker Is Right in 2015?

Jeffrey M. Lacker, sole dissenter from the Federal Reserve's decision last week to keep the interest rates it controls unchanged:

I dissented because I believe that an increase in our interest rate target is needed, given current economic conditions and the medium-term outlook. Household spending, which has grown steadily since the recession, has accelerated in the last couple of years. Labor market conditions have steadily improved as well and have tightened considerably this year. With the federal funds rate near zero and inflation running between 1 and 2 percent, real (inflation-adjusted) short-term interest rates are below negative 1 percent. Such exceptionally low real interest rates are unlikely to be appropriate for an economy with persistently strong consumption growth and tightening labor markets...

This is remarkable. This is remarkable, of course, because I cannot think of a single case since he became Richmond Regional Federal Reserve Bank President in 2004 in which any of Lacker's dissents from the Federal Reserve have shown positive insight into the actual state of the economy.

Can anybody?

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Liveblogging the American Revolution: September 16, 1777: Battle of the Clouds

Wikipedia: Battle of the Clouds:

The Battle of the Clouds... was an aborted engagement of... the American Revolutionary War on September 16, 1777, in the area surrounding present day Malvern, Pennsylvania.... General Howe was alerted that Washington had recrossed the Schuylkill on the afternoon of September 15, and by midnight, his troops were on the march toward the major road junction where the White Horse Tavern stood. The going was difficult because the weather had been rainy and windy, and the troops and wagons turned the roads into muddy quagmires....

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Liveblogging World War II: September 15, 1945: Returning POWs

Pierce Wardlow: POW Diaries:

September 15, 1945.

Yipee! The ships that came for us were in the harbor! The Fourth Division Marines are the ones who came and picked us up. Was I happy? I should say so. Who wouldn’t be after all these years of war and waiting?

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